Lisa Jackson

Planting Seeds

E-STEM

Summer is the time for youth camps, whether they’re sports, arts, or a little bit of everything.  Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure to visit a very unique summer camp in the District of Columbia – “E-STEM,” the Environmental – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Leadership Camp run by Living Classrooms National Capital Region and partially sponsored by EPA. The young girls participating had already been recognized by their teachers and communities for their academic performance, along with leadership potential. I saw some of these attributes as they shared their experiences, such as the vegetables and flowers they grew in wooden pallets that had been painted and converted into mini “urban” gardens.

The camp’s green science activities seemed to have sprouted something even more – a greater interest by the middle school girls in environmental issues and maybe even in technical careers down the road.

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Lisa Jackson, a hero to women everywhere

Interns with Lisa Jackson

By Karen Dante

While acutely aware of the green movement’s popularity within my generation, I can assure you that my decision to pursue a career in environmental protection is not a mere fad.

My career choices were determined even before I was born. I grew up in India where there were only two suitable careers for a man and a woman – either becoming a doctor or an engineer. Indeed, one of the most difficult experiences in my life was looking into my parents’ eyes and informing them that I would not be taking the MCATs but rather I wanted to work in the environmental science field, as a field researcher and someday, a climate policy analyst.

While this painful meeting marked a turning point in my life, my past two years in the environmental field have been filled with great adventures and learning experiences from conducting surveys of rare plant species to collecting data on the climate’s impact on plants to lobbying on the Hill for wildlife funding and now, to working as a Communications Fellow in EPA’s Climate Change Division.

Since my entry in the environmental field, my parents have not only been proud and supportive, but are actively engaged in the green movement from purchasing produce at the local farmers market to installing energy efficient light bulbs and products.

My decision to pursue a career that doesn’t fit standard expectations has been reinforced by the work and activism carried forth by environmental leaders such as Bill McKibben, Al Gore, and Juliet Eilperin. On Friday, July 27th, I had the honor of meeting yet another environmental leader and one of my role models – EPA Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson.  

I’ve had the opportunity to hear Ms. Jackson speak in the past and have been blown away by not only her breadth of knowledge but also her passion for the environment and the American public. What most inspires me about Ms. Jackson is that she’s an African American woman holding the highest ranking position within EPA, and has a strong voice and leadership role outside EPA.

She has given me the courage to inspire other young women from underrepresented communities to pursue careers that don’t fit the status quo but are still vital to the well-being of the world. She’s a testament to all women that you can have a strong voice and be a leader in any field of your choosing.

Karen Dante is an ORISE Fellow supporting the communications team in the Climate Change Division within the Office of Air and Radiation. She holds a Bachelors of Science in biology and psychology from Queen’s University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Environmental Science and Policy at John’s Hopkins University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Be Part of the Conversation this Earth Day

This weekend, people across the US and around the world will celebrate the 42nd annual Earth Day. After four decades, the event that started with 20 million Americans has blossomed into a day of service and celebration for nearly a billion people in every part of the planet. Every year I’m reminded that at the heart of Earth Day there is a simple goal: Help every person see the connections between our lives and the health of our environment.

The first Earth Day was organized as a series of teach-ins to start a discussion about the pollution in our communities, and those small beginnings sparked major changes: the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, which turns 40 this year.

Bringing people together around these issues continues to be essential, and we have been working to expand the conversation on environmentalism to new places. We want mothers and fathers to know how important clean air is to their health and the health of their children. We want African Americans and Latinos to join the conversation about environmental challenges in their communities, so we can address disparities in asthma, cancer and other illnesses, and work for environmental justice. We want you – wherever you live – to start your own conversation about protecting health and the environment.

Fortunately, this Earth Day we have more ways to connect, discuss and act than ever before.

EPA’s Earth Day page offers a range of ways for you to bring your voice to this conversation, and be a part of the work to protect our planet.

We’re counting on you to tell your friends and family, your local officials, and your entire world about protecting our health and preserving our planet. I hope you’ll lend your voice to these important issues, Earth Day and every day.

About the author: Lisa Jackson is the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.